A man from Compton, Calif., appeared in federal court Tuesday over charges that he targeted and robbed more than 20 gay men he met through Grindr.
Special agents with the FBI arrested Derrick Patterson Monday, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The 22-year-old has been charged with one count of robbery.
Authorities said from November 2019 until March 2022 Patterson would find his victims by using Grindr. He allegedly would meet his victims at their homes or at hotels under the guise of hooking up with them, only to rob them.
“During the robberies, Patterson allegedly pulled weapons — varyingly, knives or a taser gun — on his victims, then demanded money and their cell phones, before fleeing the scene with the victims’ wallets. On other occasions, Patterson physically assaulted his victims,” authorities said.
He would then allegedly withdraw money with their bank cards or use his victims' credit cards.
In one example given in an affidavit filed with the U.S Attorney’s Office, Patterson allegedly met up with a victim. While the two were having consensual sex, Patterson took the victim’s phone and attempted to get the victim to tell him the phone’s password. The victim wouldn’t tell him, so Patterson allegedly pulled out a taser and threatened the victim.
“When the victim fled, Patterson allegedly activated the taser,” according to the affidavit. “When the victim returned to the room, Patterson was gone, but the victim’s wallet was missing and his belongings had been rummaged through.”
The authorities obtained a search warrant for Patterson’s phone number, which showed that he was near the location of the hotel at the time of the robbery. He also appeared near a different hotel where a similar robbery happened earlier that day.
Patterson is accused of stabbing a man in the chest in October 2020. The victim survived and was able to identify Patterson to the police.
Patterson faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
The FBI is looking for other victims of Patterson. They can contact the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at (310) 477-6565.